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Juvenile spotted owl behind a branch with a wooden background.

In the Dark

It is not uncommon that we find ourselves sitting in the dark, flashlights in hand, when the power goes out. Over the years of windstorms and downed trees, we have come to perfect our power outage procedure at the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program. Once the lights go out, we wait up to half an hour to see if the power will come back on. The incubators are well insulated and can hold their temperature for short periods of time.

If the power doesn’t come back on, we wheel out the generator which will be used to power the incubators containing eggs and chicks. Our maintenance manager Vince inspects the generator regularly, keeps it fueled, and teaches everyone at the facility how to operate it.

It is important that the incubators stay at specific temperatures for the eggs and chicks, therefore we carefully monitor these incubators to make sure they aren’t losing any heat or overheating after being plugged in to the generator. In some cases, we may have to move eggs to different incubators if we can only keep a few powered on.

While having the facility in a rural area has its perks, one of the downsides is that we are not in a high priority area for BC Hydro to restore power. The owls, which are nocturnal, certainly don’t mind living in the dark!

Once the power comes back on, we unplug the incubators from the generator, allow the generator to cool down and move back any eggs that were relocated. We also carefully record how long the power was out and keep a close eye on the incubators to make sure they are functioning properly. If everything goes according to plan, the chicks and eggs won’t notice any changes and can focus on growing into spotted owls!

This article was originally published in our 2022 Newsletter.


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